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Most useless cooking instruction

  • k

As________ as possible or as _______ as you can. Think I just f'd up a jar of sauerkraut by falling into that even though I know better.

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    1. re: girloftheworld

      not always, but often enough. (ever heated up some Lean Pockets? super stupid silly removal and replacement instructions.

      1. re: girloftheworld

        particularly when said packaging is clearly made of flimsy plastic. Duhhhhhhh.

        1. re: girloftheworld

          I bet all those who have roasted a turkey or chicken and found the neck and giblet package after cooking would have preferred if they read and followed that information first....

          1. re: fourunder

            I don't think that falls under "remove from packaging" since the goody bag inside the bird isn't really packaging.

            1. re: Musie

              sure it is -- it's paper/plastic...but you still need to know to look for it.

              It does beat the farm-raised turkey I bought a few years ago -- I peeked into the cavity and said "Oh, good, the giblets are all there for gravy" -- reached into the cavity ad found that the giblets were still attached....

            2. re: fourunder

              It won't kill anyone, as I can attest from experience. (on the West Coast the package is a type of paper that can survive oven temps)

              1. re: fourunder

                I was not there for the occasion but my SIL had the family over for Tgiving and found the giblet package after the turkey was carved and served. It is till good for a laugh, many years later.

              2. re: girloftheworld

                Disagree.

                I had a friend in high school that married on graduation and was keen to cook meals for her new husband. She invited a few of his university friends over for dinner and had boiled hot dogs in their packaging. Needless to say, the package exploded and I'm sure, years later, whomever lives at that townhouse is still picking hot dog shrapnel out of the nooks and crannies of that kitchen!

                1. re: girloftheworld

                  The Hershey website has a recipe for York Peppermint brownies. (They are killer! If you make them, don't blame me for your lack of control around the pan as it cools and your, "Just one taste." becomes half a pan missing.)

                  I digress- the recipe tells you to "unwrap" the 24 patties before covering them with brownie batter and baking.

                  1. re: hambone

                    Probably for legal reasons! Not everyone is as brilliant as you and I.

                  2. re: girloftheworld

                    This is not about cooking instructions, but about "remove from packaging"...

                    I once managed a fermentation factory which had a 5000 gallon agitated tank that we'd charge with sugar that came in 50-lb bags -- packaged in brown paper bags with plastic liners. On one occasion, a new operator charged several thousand lbs of sugar into the tank by slitting open the paper bags and tossing in the contents -- not realizing that there were plastic liners inside the paper bags. So we ended up with 5000 gallons of concentrated sugar solution with hundreds of plastic bags, some tangled around the agitator, some clogging the discharge line, some floating on the surface... Not fun. Needless to say, production was down that day.

                          1. re: tacosandbeer

                            Though, I'm a fan of Fuschia Dunlop's instruction of cook until it smells delicious. Right on for stirfrying ginger, etc.

                          2. Season to taste - If you don't know to taste your dish and make adjustments prior to serving, shame on you.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: mike0989

                              They make sense but they impart no useful information.

                              1. re: mike0989

                                Eggs-Ackley. Most people have no taste. And no idea how to season.

                                    1. re: mwhitmore

                                      What's the view like from up there on your ivory tower?

                                      1. re: mwhitmore

                                        Who are the "they" you are talking about. I am confused?

                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                          "They" are the people who are not snobs. :P

                                  1. re: mike0989

                                    When I was a working professional who attended organization meeting dinners, sitting at a round table with 7 other people, and watching some diners adding salt to their entree before tasting it.

                                    1. re: ChiliDude

                                      UGH! I hate that. I'm fine with them pouring the entire salt shaker on their food - but ONLY if they taste it first!

                                    2. re: mike0989

                                      Season to taste when we're dealing with raw ingredients. WTF???

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Yup. Irritates me silly. This dish has raw ground pork and I add the salt to the raw meat "to taste".

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          oh don't be so shy...

                                          julie - I do taste the fresh unused marinade and imagine, hmm I have an idea how the meat is supposed to taste untreated and ask 'will this enhance or detract?' after it's been added to the meat I hover and sniff.

                                          or sometimes I have tasted a small sliver - not dead yet!

                                        2. re: c oliver

                                          I'm actually making a marinade on Monday night that says that in the instructions... not really sure how you can season a marinade to taste.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            My mother in law has no fear. And a fantastic immune system, I think. She'll taste everything for seasoning including the curry that she's just added raw fish/chicken/beef to. She really doesn't understand why I decline.

                                          2. re: mike0989

                                            Would you prefer to have a recipe say add 2 tablespoons, rather than season to taste?

                                            1. re: fourunder

                                              Yes. Or a range: 1&3/4 to 2&1/4. Or "At least 2T". There is not an infinite range of correct seasoning. And if you are writing a recipe you have an obligation to determine how much that is. Just as with less important ingredients.

                                          3. Season to taste and cook until done make sense even if they are somewhat obvious.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: kengk

                                              They make sense but impart no useful information--hence not helpful.

                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                I agree that taken on their own, those instructions sound ridiculous. However, in the context of a recipe, it tells me at what point I should season and takes away any uncertainty as to whether I should par-cook or not. It's also left vague enough where I don't feel compelled to cook ingredients to a certain level of doneness, fearing that I'll compromise the flavor of the dish if I don't cook to the specified doneness.

                                                Seems like a no-brainer for experienced cooks, but you'd be surprised what assumptions new cooks make or what simple things (like seasoning) they forget when trying to follow a recipe.

                                                1. re: soypower

                                                  I kind of like the season to taste sometimes too. Granted, most people probably know to do this, but it also lets the cook know that perhaps the dish might not have enough seasoning...

                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                    Yep - and even then, people can miss the prompt!

                                                    It drives me nuts to see a review of a recipe complaining that it was too bland / flavorless, and in the instructions it clearly states: season to taste.

                                                    Of course, there are other factors at play too, but often it is simply underseasoning.

                                            2. My nomination: "Serve."

                                              And yes, I've used it. And I'll nominate it anyway. ;D

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                But 'Serve immediately' has a function---it means this dish will deteriorate if you let it sit around.

                                                1. re: mwhitmore

                                                  True, but I specified "Serve", not "Serve immediately" ;D

                                                  1. re: mwhitmore

                                                    Sometimes daunting, though. It seems that whenever I look in Martha Stewart's (I know, I know) hors d'oeuvre book, I'm attracted to two or three things with that very instruction. And she's just finished telling me to do as much in advance as possible! No one's fault, just one of those things...

                                                2. I hate, hate, hate when instructions say 'sauté onion until softened and browned, about 5-7 minutes.... um, since when do onions actually get browned and soft that fast unless you are nearly burning them? Perhaps if I have 1/4 of an onion, small, it MIGHT take 10+ minutes, but normally, if I have a whole onion or more in a recipe, it takes much closer to 15-20 to do properly over med-low heat to caramlize and not burn.

                                                  I think recipes use that short time as it is so common, and they don't actually test properly. Also allows them to say shorter cooking time for a recipe. Fo' shame.

                                                  46 Replies
                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                    And I thought it was just me, unable to properly brown onions in the allotted time.

                                                    1. re: nofunlatte

                                                      Nope, not just you. Common to lie. (Or a more generous explanation would be they have professional stoves that have BTUs that no home cook would have.)

                                                      You ought to see the big contretemps re "can you caramelize onions in ten minutes or not?" Stretches over time, multiple websites, youtube demonstration videos, and more.

                                                      1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                        Me too. Same problem. I thought it was because I always saute at medium heat.

                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                          Nope. In many cases its probably because if they told you how long it really took to do things, you would never try the recipes and give up on cooking altogether.

                                                          I've been writing recipes lately, and I must admit, as I'm doing things, I have to think, is this going to take too long for most people? Is this too technical? Would this be too difficult for the average cook? I've finally decided not to focus on how long things take, but on how much active work folks have to do. They probably aren't going to care if it takes a half hour, if they don't have to stand at the stove stirring something constantly.

                                                          1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                            there is a book called "Desperation Dinners" that ha 30-minute recipes.....and they're amazing close to the mark....probably the only one I've ever found that does.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              The 60 Minute Gourmet recipes can be prepared within the time limit.

                                                              The instructions I hate are the ones printed on the bottom of the box with products you should not invert, like frozen pies.

                                                              1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                1. Empty the container you're reading....

                                                                (as in you invert it, and the contents fall out. Step 1 done.)

                                                        2. re: ePressureCooker

                                                          THAT MAKES ME CRAZY! It takes me a solid 40 minutes to an hour to get properly caramelized onions.

                                                        3. re: nofunlatte

                                                          I read something about this recently, that most instructions say it takes about 10 minutes over medium heat - and the article went on to say how false that was, but I don't think it said how long it actually takes - so I timed my pot of 4 large thinly sliced yellow onions that I caramelized for some goulash. It took..no lie...45 minutes. That was getting them fully reduced and dark, dark brown.
                                                          Maybe you can get away with less time if you have sweeter onions or if you don't want them fully caramelized, but I think of this as THE BIG LIE in cookbooks.

                                                          1. re: khh1138

                                                            I think I read the same article you did, amongst others. (I was looking for tips for better results, and didn't find much, just the arguing back and forth.) I did actually find a tip re carrots that I've been testing and think will be helpful for caramelized onions, but I haven't finished trying it out.

                                                            I don't actually think having marginally sweeter onions would change the time. And certainly using "sweet" onions won't improve it, because they have more water in them than regular onions. I'm not at all surprised it took 45 minutes. I tried four onions one time, and I think this is when I realized the kitchen timer was really off, it said I had been at it for almost two hours. No lie here, either.

                                                            That's when I decided that I would rather dirty two pans doing two onions apiece than spend an extra hour because there was just too much moisture in the pan. (I think I read somewhere that Thomas Keller says it takes them *4* hours to do caramelized onions. OMG.)

                                                            1. re: khh1138

                                                              I think that's why I posted the comment up thread. So true!

                                                              Part of my business is as a recipe tester for cookbooks, and I am forever correcting this step in recipes :)

                                                          2. re: gingershelley

                                                            totally agree. I complain about it enough that a friend sent me this article. :)

                                                            http://www.slate.com/articles/life/sc...

                                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                                              AH! That's the article I read too! My google-fu had failed me.

                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                Yup, I read that one, too. I think that's the one that started the great "Can you caramelize onions in ten minutes?" kerfuffle.

                                                              2. re: gingershelley

                                                                I never caramelize sliced onions (not that I don't like them), but I do know that to get a large amount of sliced onions soft and golden for certain pasta sauces or frittatas, a half hour is minimum. But to get a chopped onion transparent enough so you can add the next ingredient, you're looking at single digits. And certainly the exact timing will depend on what kind of pan you're using and your stove. It is therefore silly for cookbooks to persist in giving these precise figures or even ranges. An order of magnitude would make more sense: "a few minutes, until just starting to soften," say, or "at least half an hour, until very soft and the moisture has evaporated." But apparently most cookbook readers demand them, and editors therefore insist. Astute readers will interpret more precise directions in this way and adapt them to their own equipment (5 minutes on a state-of-the-art professional burner equals about 15 on my clunker, or simply an order of magnitude, quick cooking or slow cooking). Still, anyone who claims to caramelize onions in 5 minutes probably got his equipment from NASA.

                                                                1. re: mbfant

                                                                  I have to agree with you, but when I stumbled upon the great "can you really caramelize onions in 10 minutes?" debate, I checked YouTube to see what the videos said. I saw one from About.com (yes, I know one should basically NEVER consider them an authority on anything, especially not cooking) where the gentleman demonstrated "caramelized" onions in 15 minutes that sent me into peals of laughter. Not only were those onions not caramelized, IMHO, but they were still retaining way too much of their shape and moisture to likely taste anything like caramelized onions.

                                                                  But while I was trying to look up something else, I stumbled upon a blog post by Seattle Food...I'm sorry, I'm really tired, I can't remember the name of the blog. He talked about trying a caramelized carrot soup where the carrots were made in the pressure cooker, and I was intrigued. I tried a mirepoix using his approximate method. Then I tried onions as a possible precursor to French onion soup, and I must say, it looks very promising. I'd already used a similar technique on my own with potatoes for different reasons, and I have more experimenting to do, but it looks quite promising that I may be able to do it in the pressure cooker.

                                                                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                    When I make French onion soup, which I have become
                                                                    known for, I caramelize the onions in a crock pot. Fill
                                                                    the pot up almost to the top with sliced onions, added a
                                                                    cut up stick of butter and just let them do their thing,
                                                                    stirring every once in a while.

                                                                    1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                      What a great idea! What temperature setting do you use, ff? How long a process?

                                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                                        Low setting, I've let them go from 7 - 8 hours to overnight.
                                                                        (No, I don't get up to stir them!) They do produce some
                                                                        liquid but, heh, it's for soup.

                                                                        1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                          I've heard of this but I know I can't do it right now...Do you have one of those old (great) crockpots? I made the mistake of getting a new one a few years ago, and it's way too hot. Mine is useless for this kind of neato trick. I'm going to have to invest in one that has a legitimate low setting (or one where you can actually set the temperature). Because making caramelized onions overnight is really living.

                                                                          1. re: khh1138

                                                                            I gave away my crock pot in disgust for this very reason. It ran waaay too hot.

                                                                            I've been slow cooking things in the oven instead, much better control over the temperature. Only drawback is that I have to be home. I wouldn't be afraid of letting it go overnight as long as the batteries in my smoke alarm are up to date :)

                                                                            I've been eyeing off the vintage crockpot in my sister's pantry but I can't seem to distract her for long enough to get hold of it...

                                                                            1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                              Ursy, if you want something that can go safely overnight or if you're not home, what you want is a thermal cooker, not a slow cooker. Basically, its like a cross between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. It is insulated and it has a locking lid like a pressure cooker, but it cooks just like a slow cooker. My sister has one. She puts it on the stove, gets all the ingredients in, heats it up to the boil, then takes it off the heat, and lets it go all night. Because its insulated and sealed, the heat remains trapped, and the temperature drops very slowly, so it continues to cook your food for hours and hours. ;D

                                                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                Oh yes, thermal cookers are AWESOME! So energy efficient.
                                                                                I just wish they could be used for bigger bits of meat :)

                                                                                1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                  My sister has one I'm just dying to get my hands on sometime...

                                                                                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                    You should, they are great to cook with! I just wish they weren't so expensive... I'd have a few in different sizes if I could :)

                                                                                    1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                      The problem is how to pry it out of her hands. She doesn't use it very often, even though she likes it, but I can't think of a good way to snatch it away from her. ;D

                                                                                      1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                        Hmmm, I think you may need to stage a distraction of some sort! ;)

                                                                                        1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                          Ah, well, much as I want to snatch it, I just can't bring myself to do it...

                                                                                          1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                            think of it as a rescue mission, a liberation. does she ever go on vacation and need a housesitter? down the road you can say "I have one exactly like that one you did, why I grabbed it when I saw it. you can borrow it if you like...."

                                                                                            see how that's worded? no lies are used. and if she doesn't give it back, well, you were the thief in the first place anyway.

                                                                              2. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                I'm curious why you'd be more concerned about leaving something in the oven rather the SC. I leave either but there are some here who are afraid the SC will catch fire. When in the oven, it's at a super low temp in a closed container. The worst I could see happening is the liquid cooks away but it's not going to combust, is it?

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I think you meant to ask ursy, but they said they gave up the crockpot because it ran too hot, not because they were concerned about it catching fire. Their only identified problem with the oven is they don't want to leave it on when they leave the house or sleep, which I don't like to do either. I live in an older home, you never know what the electrical wiring might do so I like to be home when anything is running, just in case.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    I don't know, I haven't examined that thought too deeply. It might be just a psychological thing. You know, like when you leave the house and think "did I leave the oven on?" it kind of programs you to think it should never be done... whereas SCs are designed for that purpose (though not everyone will leave the house with a SC going either).

                                                                                    Thanks for making me think! Sometimes we forget to question things just because we've believed them for so long.

                                                                                    1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                      I think the #1 thing that CH has given me is the chance to toss away old ideas. Not that you should about this. Just saying.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        My father, the engineer by profession and handyman by hobby, said to never leave anything that uses water or produces heat unsupervised (furnace and water heater excluded, of course).

                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                          My father was also an engineer (now retired), and I don't know whether it was because of him or not, but aside from leaving lights or a radio on so people would think we were home when we were not, we'd never leave anything on when we weren't home, not the clothes washer, not the dishwasher, and certainly no kitchen electrical appliance...

                                                                                          1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                            Well, my husband is an engineer, a university professor, and we just had a fire in the kitchen because he put something on top of the toaster, which was off, and we retired to the terrace for dinner. The stupid toaster (as I had told him) had these basket things that stuck out, so if you put anything on top of the toaster they would go down, as though they were full, and turn on the heat. The lesson -- if we ever have that kind of toaster again, which I doubt -- is always to unplug when not in use.

                                                                                2. re: khh1138

                                                                                  I have a pretty new crockpot and do this all the time. You need a lot of onions- they'll burn if you only do one or two onions.

                                                                                  1. re: Savour

                                                                                    I'll have to give this a go. This could change everything!

                                                                                    1. re: khh1138

                                                                                      Its SeattleFoodGeek.com - there's a blog post about caramelized carrots, and one about squash that talk about it.

                                                                      2. re: gingershelley

                                                                        absolutely right.
                                                                        pure bs in bad food writing. and crap useless 'tips' like that are everywhere.

                                                                        Useful info from line cooks: to go fast
                                                                        chop and nuke _briefly_ then immediately saute , as in right now, out of the microwave.

                                                                        DO NOT chop and then refrigerate (if possible). chopping releases sulfites (gas) that can put off the flavors.

                                                                        but if you can immediately saute, this works solid. and works for large as well as small amounts, if your saute pan is big enough to keep temp. up.

                                                                        the nuke part sounds like and extra step but it knocks lots of time off a saute - note - not nuking all the way to a soft texture - just enough (1-2 min for a cup) to warm and soften.

                                                                        my experience is line cooks just don't have the time for BS
                                                                        and most food magazine 'tips' are full of major BS.

                                                                        1. re: kariin

                                                                          I've never personally tried microwaving onions before I saute them, but that sounds about right. I have tried using the pressure cooker on them for a couple of minutes to purge some of the water (I reserve the onion juice for stock, or for onion soup).

                                                                          I saw a blog post about caramelizing carrots in the pressure cooker using a little butter and baking soda (I'd used it with other vegetables for other reasons) so I wanted to try it with other things. I pressure cooked some mirepoix - it was definitely sweeter than I think it would have been. Next I tried a couple of onions, and they definitely wilted down and browned, they didn't taste quite like traditionally made caramelized onions, but they were also swimming in their own browned juices, almost like quick French onion soup. I'm definitely going to be playing with it, to try to figure out how to use this.

                                                                            1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                              I've tried the microwave the onions first thing, it worked pretty well. you end up with quite a bit of liquid left in the bottom of your container, and I ended up wondering how much flavor was being left there that would have been reabsorbed back into the onions.

                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                Well, there is a lot of liquid involved, but there are two ways you can handle it. Either use the liquid for broth or stock, or reduce it on its own, while you cook the onions.

                                                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                                                            They don't get fully caramelized that fast, but they will get softened and browned around the edges.

                                                                          2. "Use good [fill in the blank]." I laugh every time Ina says that. Like I'd otherwise use the crappiest stuff available? I'll use what I have on hand, thank you very much.

                                                                            30 Replies
                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                              Unless Ina herself is coming over. I might pick up some "crappy vanilla" just for her. :P

                                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                I never tasted real vanilla extract until I set up my own kitchen. Mom only ever bought the imitation stuff. That said, I seldom buy vanilla beans to scrape in (have been burned with totally dried out beans, useful only for dropping into a bottle of vodka, which isn't a bad use), but I DO buy real extract. Wonder if Ina could taste that 1 teaspoon of the imitation stuff?

                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                  I seem to recall an ATK taste test that actually chose an artificial vanilla over the real ones.

                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                    Good question. That ATK taste test does sound familiar! But very quickly here...I have never had anything dried out from Penzey's. I buy all my vanilla beans there, and trust me when I say this because it's gelato season and I just stocked up! :)

                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                      Find the best/biggest hispanic/mexican grocery store near you.
                                                                                      Ask for vanilla beans and look at them carefully. I buy so much stuff at these stores that gets sold in regular stores for 3x more.Quality is usually better - avocados, masa flour etc. Become friends and good customers and you'll get lots of help and solid information. Mexican vanilla beans are just fine.

                                                                                  2. re: pine time

                                                                                    You have to remember who her target audience is and why she say these things. Yes its seems redundant to person who cooks regularly and is exposed to a wide variety of even common ingredients but what about the person who doesn't?

                                                                                    Have you ever had a really good aglio e olio made with crappy olive oil? Or a dish where the star is the cheese and someone made it with prepackaged shredded and then complained it didn't taste good? A caprese salad made with grocery store pale/mealy tomatoes.

                                                                                    Not defending Ina necessarily but I like it when I read/hear a chef says "don't spend a fortune on X when Y works just as well" or says "This is not dish to save money using Y, go for X instead". Especially if its dish or cuisine that is new to me.

                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                      Foodie, I get your point, but does the "not foodie" cook understand that her "grocery store pale/mealy tomatoes" aren't copacetic? (Thank heavens my home-grown tomatoes are producing up a storm.)

                                                                                      If I'm a basic home cook in Podunk, with 1 grocery store accessible, I'll probably be buying whatever vanilla they have. Maybe it would be helpful if some "Ask Ina" segment went over what brands she finds "good," i.e., vanilla, olive oil, etc.

                                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                                        But, IME, even the most basic grocery store (I am talking really *small* towns) offer real and imitation vanilla. Is their real as good as what Ina gets? No, but its better than the fake. Plus she does often say buy the best *you* can afford/find. I think its about teaching/showing that there a big differences in olive oils, vinegars, spices, etc.

                                                                                        She did do a segment on her "ask" series about hard to find/$$ ingredients and she basically said if it's a minor part of a dish go ahead and sub with a more common/less costly one other wise don't do it.

                                                                                        (God, I am beginning to sound like her cockadoodie "number one fan") LOL

                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                          Personally, I am very interested to see how the roll out of Amazon's grocery service impacts the availability of ingredients for home cooks. They're already selling enormous numbers of canned goods, dried goods like pastas, hot cereal products, gluten free, organic, etc. It'll be really interesting to see how that impacts availability of things like potato starch (which I have been unable to get locally, thus far, for example) and how local retailers will respond.

                                                                                          IIRC, they'll be starting their rollout here in California, just not sure when...

                                                                                            1. re: Savour

                                                                                              I'm in Los Angeles, I wondered why they hadn't flashed a notice across my amazon screen, then I went and found the Amazon fresh site and discovered why. Its currently limited to certain zip codes in Los Angeles, they offer a 90 day trial for Amazon prime members, and after that, you have to pay $299 a year for a combined Amazon Prime / Amazon Fresh plan. Their prices for fresh produce, meat and vegetables, were quite HIGH on top of that. I doubt I'd ever bite given the yearly fee and the prices, especially since you can buy most of the dried and canned goods through Amazon already and get free shipping.

                                                                                              It seems to cater to the well off and busy, but as for the rest of us, quite a disappointment. Thought they'd have a better business model.

                                                                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                but then again if you're well off and busy you can probably afford staff a few days a week to clean and stock.

                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                  Unless you have a fondness for pork rinds you don't want your staff to know about... ;D

                                                                                                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                    oh they're professionals. they've seen it all...

                                                                                                2. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                  Yep. I signed up for the free trial, and have used it a couple of times but I haven't been impressed. Saves me a trip to Vons. Maybe. Not work the $220 a year (over the Amazon Prime cost)

                                                                                            2. re: foodieX2

                                                                                              A lot of the time I see people saying "use the best you can afford."

                                                                                              We're a DINK. We have plenty of money to spend on ridiculously expensive groceries if we want, but I'm not going to go out and buy massively expensive olive oil for a salad dressing. That said, I'll happily pay tons of money for something that is WORTH it and will definitely and notably affect the quality of the dish.

                                                                                        2. re: pine time

                                                                                          I never noticed this until...well, today. I was writing down the instructions for Ina's roasted shrimp cocktail and ingredient #2 "1 tbsp good olive oil." I had a lovely chuckle.

                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                            Bring out the good olive oil, company is coming. ;-)

                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                              I'll have to hide that crap oil in the closet.

                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                I have my good olive oils (mostly from small California producers) that I use for salads and wherever I want the taste of olive oil to come through. Then there's the everyday "olive" oil that comes in the big can supposedly from Italy but probably took a few detours on the way: that's for sauteeing and general cooking.

                                                                                            2. re: pine time

                                                                                              I have multiple oo's and some are a lot better than others and are used for finishing, some for salad dressings and some for cooking.

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Exactly. I think there are still many people out there who don't realize the range of flavors and quality in things like oils, vinegars, spices, etc. Maybe it the use of the word "good" that rankles everyone.

                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                  That's it, foodie. Just say "finishing oil," or "cooking grade oil" and I'll be fine. Saying "good" reeks of pretention to me. Maybe I'm oversensitive.

                                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                                    I'd say when giving instructions to the masses, it's important to describe well to someone who isn't a whiz (yet) in the kitchen. If it says "good" they can ask at the grocery or food shop what a "good" olive oil is. I actually think "good" can be pretty descriptive. For instance, tonight I'm fixing some BSCB that aren't very "good." They were super cheap and not the highest quality. I wouldn't use them for just anything.

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      What do the people who dislike "good" think of it when attributed to alcohol? I read a drink recipe that called for "good rum". Not pretentious in my mind as the taste of good is dramatically different than basic Bacardi

                                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                          but in cooking would you use good cognac or plain ol' E&J brandy ? sometimes "good" doesnt always mean good for...

                                                                                                2. re: pine time

                                                                                                  Just made a flourless chocolate cake, and the recipe told me to use good quality semi-sweet chocolate. I had a laugh!

                                                                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                    are those the chips in the yellow bag or the brown and and gold bag?

                                                                                                3. Can't think of cooking instructions more useless than these:
                                                                                                  .
                                                                                                  "1 free range egg."
                                                                                                  .
                                                                                                  You are telling me in the recipe what kind of lifestyle the egg donor should live. ;-)
                                                                                                  .
                                                                                                  "6 ounces Fair Trade-certified dark chocolate"

                                                                                                  "1 6-oz can Pole Caught Albacore Tuna"
                                                                                                  .
                                                                                                  Now we have politically correct instructions in recipes.
                                                                                                  .
                                                                                                  Look for the union label....... ;-)

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                    Yes.

                                                                                                    And its one of the crappy aspects of web/magazine 'foodie' writing that really discourages the folks who most need to do home cooking; ordinary Moms and familiy cooks who don't know much about cooking. Folks who want to do better meal-wise, maybe don't have access cause they live in a food desert and maybe don't have much $$ to spend.

                                                                                                    I call it Snob Cooking and I call BS on it whenever I can.

                                                                                                      1. re: DolphinSquirrel

                                                                                                        I didn't realize you could track the nationality of a fisherman. Would a substitution of a Lithuanian caught albacore tuna be permissible?

                                                                                                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                          I think it would have to be verified by a neutral party. Like the Swiss Navy.

                                                                                                      2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                        These infuriate me. I have a feeling that the writers of the recipe just like to make it clear that THEY use pastured eggs and raw milk. This is just the same as Ina Garten's "good" olive oil.

                                                                                                      3. I've got 2 of them.

                                                                                                        1. When making a frittata on the cook top, and told to flip it once the bottom is set. Start on the cook top, and finish under the broiler, thus avoiding a mess by trying to flip it.

                                                                                                        2. When making a chicken pot pie or any other pie, being told to put foil around the perimeter to prevent burning of the crust. How about burning yourself trying that silly trick. Instead, put the foil around the perimeter first and then removing during the final baking stage.

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                          Re: #1 - flipping is proper instructions for a Spanish tortilla, and tortilla purists will rage against the notion that one might contemplate finishing a tortilla in the oven. "NO!!" they cry, "that's a frittata!" And they're right. Flip tortillas, top-brown frittatas.

                                                                                                          My least favorite instructions are the ones that, for no good reason at all, specify the size and type of cooking or mixing vessel. "In medium bowl …" or "In small skillet …" Honest to Pete, if I can't figure out from the quantity or kind of ingredients what size bowl I'll need, or whether I should use a smallish skillet or a giant wok, I'll just hang up the apron and do takeout or frozen meals.

                                                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                            Some people need bowl guidance more than others. My assistant often makes odd choices. Why put the white chocolate in one of the biggest bowls when it is only going to be added to a custard later? Maybe it's more in baking, where you may be mixing several bowls in a specific order and you have to know which bowl it will all end up in.

                                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                              Actually you turn a frittata. Unless you're saying that generations of Italians have been eating tortillas without knowing it.

                                                                                                              The normal way to cook a frittata is to slide it out of the pan onto a plate or lid, invert the pan over it, and flip. Some people invert first, then slide, but that makes no sense to me since the wet side of the frittata is in contact with the plate and you must waste egg that way. But the broiler/oven is not normal practice in Italy. It really doesn't make sense to heat up a broiler when you're standing there at the stove and can easily complete the operation right where you are.

                                                                                                              1. re: mbfant

                                                                                                                Yes, I've seen those instructions, but I use a 10 1/2" cast iron skillet with a short handle. Try flipping one of those. Normal or not, my method works for me. Besides, cutting the cooked frittata into 4 wedges and using a spatula to remove the wedges almost leaves the skillet CLEAN so all that is needed is to wipe the skillet out.

                                                                                                                Vivi, ama, ridi e specialmente mangia bene!

                                                                                                                ChiliDude has spoken (in Italian yet!)!!!

                                                                                                                1. re: mbfant

                                                                                                                  This is a follow-up post regarding the remarks about the normal method of preparing a frittata. I did some research looking through books that I have in my collection. Two of them have a suggestion about finishing the cooking of frittatte (plural in Italian). Their citations appear below.

                                                                                                                  Classic Italian Cookbook by Julia Della Croce, 1996, page 66. Statement number 6, “Place the frittata under the broiler and cook for 5-9 minutes.”

                                                                                                                  Sophia Loren’s Recipes & Memories, 1998, page 21. The final statement of a text entitled “Le Frittate” states “Alternatively, once the underside is browned, you can slip the skillet into a preheated oven to brown on top and cook through.”

                                                                                                                  …And YES, I bought the Recipes & Memories book in 2000 for the photos more than the recipes. However, it has great recipes along with explanations.

                                                                                                            2. ...serve with XXXXXX, if liked.
                                                                                                              Why would you serve it if you didn't like it?

                                                                                                              1. The average person can barely cut a bagel in half without a trip to the emergency room.

                                                                                                                What do TV chefs always demonstrate? Smashing garlic cloves by striking the side of a large, very sharp, chef knife with the heel of your bare hand. What could possibly go wrong?

                                                                                                                Not to mention the fact the cutting board now has a really nice garlic flavor, but the food, not so much.

                                                                                                                Let's see, a trip to the emergency room, insurance deductible $ 1000? The very best garlic press $ 75?

                                                                                                                A very useless cooking instruction.

                                                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                  If you've ever seen Americas worst cooks, Anne Burrell shows her students to smash garlic just like that. I tend to agree about that being a bad instruction.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Musie

                                                                                                                    it is overkill. I taught my little cousin to smash garlic with the bottom of a plastic juice cup.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                    apparently I'm leading a charmed life.

                                                                                                                    I broke my garlic press 25 years ago, and have been smashing cloves with a chef's knife or a bench knife ever since.

                                                                                                                    Given the quantity of garlic I use in a given month and my predilection for hurting myself in inexplicable ways (oh, let's talk about falling off a ladder and breaking a finger a few weeks ago...), smashing garlic with a chef's knife simply cannot be all that high-risk.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      I was speaking about the average person watching a cooking show that might attempt the garlic clove/chef knife stunt.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                        I'm a fairly average cooking ignorant husband trying to learn some kitchen techniques. I found out about the knife-smashing method by watching video clips and couldn't believe how easy it is. I agree that a warning should go along with it, but reasonable care should make this an appropriate skill.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          So have I. I was smashing garlic cloves with a chef's knife since I was a kid. I was 10 years old if not younger, prepping and cooking just fine in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            I don't lead a charmed life, or only partially charmed. An admitted klutz, I've tried the knife smash thing several times. I have yet to cut myself, but somehow rather than being smashed, the garlic has a tendency to sip out from under the blade shoot across the room and land in the most difficult places. Behind the stove or refrigerator, under the toaster oven, and one time i think it landed on top of the upper cabinets, but I never did actually find it. Ive gone back to mincing.

                                                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                              get yourself a big flat bench knife -- I still have the stainless Graham Kerr Bash 'n' Chop I bought in the early 90s...it used to have an imprint of Graham signature, and remarkably useful ruler markings along the edge...

                                                                                                                              with that, there's no way the garlic will get away from you.

                                                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                I use this. Garlic goes into double-folded plastic wrap or small ziploc, then bang away:

                                                                                                                                http://www.amazon.com/Farberware-Meat...

                                                                                                                                Me smash garlic.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                              Don't get me started on frikkin' TV chefs or I'm gonna sound like Tony B on a bad day.

                                                                                                                              (current) TV cooking is TV performance. period. (mostly) Useless but sure to draw and keep the eyeballs. The more drama and flashy, artsy crap the more likely to capture eyeballs.

                                                                                                                              in cooking w/ an inexperienced friend I showed him how to lay down a damp cloth (napkin etc) to steady a (designated) cutting board used for onions, garlic etc. How to chop-mince whatever w/out damage.

                                                                                                                              He asked why TV shows don't demonstrate this?? its really basic but seriously useful. (yeah he watches the TV crap).
                                                                                                                              Ah, maybe cause they aren't interested in teaching anybody anything useful but basic therefore boring??
                                                                                                                              And boob shots hold eyeballs so much better.

                                                                                                                              yeah. ranting.

                                                                                                                              1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                To be fair, I've seen TV cooking shows demonstrate the damp cloth and bowl technique before.

                                                                                                                                But you're right. I think I saw something where most of those watching cooking shows don't even cook. Or never try the recipes. Its entertainment. I read somewhere that the reason the Food Network created shows like The Next Food Network Star (and other such competition type shows) is because men like competition shows and they were trying to draw a larger male audience.

                                                                                                                                Its not really about the food anymore.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                  it was one of the good things about the older TV cooks, usually on PBS. Julia and Grahame never hesitated to give useful hints along the way, or to discredit silly ideas.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                    I'm old enough to know who the Graham is you refer to. ;D

                                                                                                                                    But again, to be fair, I'm pretty sure I've seen this on a couple of Food Network shows as well. I'm not *quite* as disdainful of the Food Network as Chris Kimball of ATK seems to be. Everything has its place and serves a function. If people are interested in trying to cook, and find Rachel or Giada more accessible than PBS shows, then more power to them. Whatever gets them to make fresh food rather than eat canned slop is OK by me. ;D

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                      heh -- and I just made a post about our friend Graham upthread. :)

                                                                                                                                      Totally agree with you on your take on Kimball, as well as tolerance that a TON of people have learned to cook real food from real ingredient by watching Rachel and Giada. I don't care for Rachel's, persona, but I can't throw stones at her, because she's reaching people.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                Works for me, I haven't sliced my hand open yet.

                                                                                                                              3. "Preheat oven to 350 degrees." Recipe then requires you to marinate something overnight.

                                                                                                                                We're not all Saudi princes.

                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                                  Ha Ha Ha! That is sooo true! I remember when my stove / oven was on it's death bed and the "pre-heat" time was long enough that I could drive to the grocery store, buy the ingredients, assemble, take a shower and THEN It would come up to the right temp.

                                                                                                                                  The correct instruction would be "You need your oven at XXX degrees to bake"

                                                                                                                                  1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                                    Mine is "preheat oven to 350 degrees" then further down in the recipe, you are told to "bake in 350 degree oven." As if I'd change the oven temp after I pre-heated it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                      I like it when they tell you at the beginning of the recipe to preheat the oven, then there are steps in the recipe that take hours, such as chilling or rising.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                        But there are recipes that want you to start with a hotter oven than you cook at. Pie recipes and some meat roasting recipes clearly ask you to turn down the oven once your food has gone in. I don't think the added clarity of reiteration is such a bad thing.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                          I rarely see a temperature change for a recipe, so if that was needed, it would make sense. I rarely roast large hunks of meat (except for brisket) and have never cooked a pie from scratch. To me, redundancy is a waste of words. But I get what you are saying.

                                                                                                                                    2. Small/medium/large casserole/baking dish/saucepan instead of specific dimensions (11X7, 2qt, etc). Yes, I am aware of the generally accepted equivalents but would it kill them to just state the preferred dimension/capacity? Perhaps I am overly sensitive to this issue because of my really crappy spatial relations skills

                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Pwmfan

                                                                                                                                        This is a pet peeve of mine. What, exactly, constitutes a "large" (or "small" or "medium") saucepan? Just tell me the approximate volume.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                          My pet peeve: why the blankety-blank aren't bakeware pieces marked with the dimensions? I keep a ruler in the kitchen to measure (yes, I have marked some wares with their dimensions, but it wears off over time). Rant over.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                            I'm with you, especially for glass pie pans. If they're marked, it's in mm, not inches, and every recipe I have tells you the pie pan size in inches.

                                                                                                                                            Then, if I'm in a particulary anxious mood that day, I start worrying about whether the inch measurement is for the top or the bottom of the pie pan.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                              Fewer problems when I buy from restaurant supply. Dimensions are always there, often capacity too in volume units.

                                                                                                                                              Switching to restaurant supply was best decision ever. Most sell direct to public - as long as you are not re-selling. Huge advantage in quality, durability and price.

                                                                                                                                              Long live Cambro!

                                                                                                                                            2. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                              Small saucepan 2-3 qts, med 3-5, large 6-8qts.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                Surely not. Small would be 1-1.5 qt, would it not? Nothing small about a 3 qt pan.

                                                                                                                                          2. Not exactly instruction, but things like 1 medium onion, 1 large tomato. One handful spinach. Small, large according to who? And I've got big hands!

                                                                                                                                            34 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                              That's a pet peeve of mine as well. I'm trying to write mine so that it includes both volume (1 cup) and weight measurements (grams) for those on the metric system. Which leads me to an off topic question: if any of you are on the metric system, how exactly do cookbooks give measurements for small amounts of ingredients like vanilla, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda? Do you really weigh out 5 grams of something? Or are there measuring spoons for standard sizes?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                ya..following The Paris Kitchen from the Tv kind of messed me up the first time... DUH!!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                  Small items like baking powder tend to be measured in standard teaspoons and even tablespoon sizes. Some more technical cook books do (rarely) give the weight in grams but even then it's usually 5g/1 tsp.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: limoen

                                                                                                                                                    So those on the metric system use the same teaspoon and tablespoon sizes as we do in America? If so, that's a relief. It seemed inconceivable to me that home cooks in Europe, etc. would be using scales to measure out 5 grams of salt, for example. I could see weighing everything being done in baking, that's often encouraged, but for cooking, that'd be very tedious!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                      well, sort of.

                                                                                                                                                      In France, for example, it's a cuillère à soupe or a cuillère à café -- a soup spoon or a coffee spoon...thus a tablespoon or a teaspoon, respectively.

                                                                                                                                                      But when you buy measuring spoons, they're marked as 5g.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                        Ah, OK, I think I have finally resolved my confusion on this matter. Thank you! So the measuring spoons are marked 5g, or 15g or whatever, even though they're really using volume measurements, not weight measurements. (Because the same volume of lemon zest wouldn't weigh the same as an equivalent volume of corn starch, or sugar, or vanilla.)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                          The measuring spoon gram markings are probably accurate for most liquids. When you get into solid or dry ingredients, powders, spices, etc. they're wrong.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                            It really varies between countries. In the UK we use the 15ml tablespoon and 5ml teaspoon measures (and everything in between) which I believe are also used in the US. In Europe, as sunshine842 has said, the measurements are slightly different

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                          A tablespoon is international, but in an Italian recipe you are to presume the tablespoon is heaping, unless otherwise stated, and in the US it's level unless specified as heaping. I presume the same holds for the teaspoon, though not much gets measured by teaspoon. Everything gets weighed except what is eyeballed, and 5g is probably seen as a large pinch rather than a level teaspoon. The idea of leveling a teaspoon for an exact measurement is just not on the radar here in Italy.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mbfant

                                                                                                                                                            This is fascinating. Thanks to all who responded to this question, and apologies to the OP for having accidentally hijacked their thread (just a little bit).

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mbfant

                                                                                                                                                              I don't agree that "a tablespoon is international". An Australian tablespoon is 20 ml, whereas an American tablespoon is close to 15 ml. OTOH, Australian, British, and American teaspoon are all ca. 5 ml... so it might better to say that "a teaspoon is international".

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: drongo

                                                                                                                                                                wow I had no idea. thank you for sharing maybe I should get a set British measuring spoons to use with my imported cookbooks?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                  The measuring spoons you can buy in Britain have the same ml measurements as those in the US, so there's duplication. One measurement used in older British cookbooks and European recipes is a dessertspoon, which is usually two teaspoons (10ml).

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: drongo

                                                                                                                                                                  Not really. I've seen teaspoons measured that are closer to two teaspoons.

                                                                                                                                                                  A cup of something isn't even international. A cup in Sri Lanka can be as little as 140 ml, or closer to about, um, 3/5 of a cup.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                            yes, I do. I truly find my baked goods are better using the weight method.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                              I really do weight out 5 grams, but there are also the ml measuring spoon equivalents of teaspoon, tablespoon, and so on. I had a set in Canada.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                Very easy, you know that the amount in a tsp is 5 grams or 5 ml and tblp 15 gs or 15ml. Still, recipes ask for tsp or tblsp. In Spanish and French recipes at least, which are the only languages outside English I'm fluent in.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                                This is why weights and a kitchen scale can be so handy when just staring out.

                                                                                                                                                                As an older (cough cough) cook, though, I get the "just a pinch" instruction.
                                                                                                                                                                Kinda how I cook these days. By taste and by "feel".

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                  I've got a really good scale, fortunately, that does pounds, ounces, and even grams, accurate to I think its a tenth of a gram. (Very accurate, in other words.)

                                                                                                                                                                  I've looked at British cooking sites, but there seem to be a mix of systems. Some put everything in grams and ML. Some have a mixture, including what looks like US measurements. I'm just confused, having a hard time figuring out what the standard method of expressing measurements is, so that I can present them in the manner that will be most accessible and easy for those on the metric system to use, too.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                    Hence the phrase I made up (or possibly stole) many years ago, "you have to learn the rules before you can break them."

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                      True. It never ceases to amaze me when folks who have little to no cooking experience (much less skills) will decide I'll just substitute this kind of flour for another, or different fats, or a different cut of beef than is called for in the recipe. Because heh, even though they call them different things, they must essentially be the same, right? #facepalm

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                        LOL- so I was making "Satan's Potatos" really just a cheese potato gratain.. My Aunt renamed it Satans Potatos because she is one "those never eat anything evil" people... so she asked during a visit for me to make to make them and was writing down the recipe..saying " So can I use low fat milk instead of cream? can I use fat free cheese instead of that beemester stuff??" I said suuuure if you want to wonder why it tastes nothing like when I make it...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                          Old joke, just the punch line: "Lady, you can do anything you want, just don't call it Veal Mario!"

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                      "just a pinch"

                                                                                                                                                                      One chef I knew said (when being told by a consultant that chef had to submit precise measurements for salt and pepper in his recipes) that cooking is an art, not a science. You can't measure a pinch.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                        I've seen instructions for a "2 finger pinch" and a "3 finger pinch."

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                          I have a measuring spoon for a "pinch" :)

                                                                                                                                                                          For most things I probably use a 3 finger pinch. For saffron probably the tips of 2 fingernails :)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                            I've got one of those spoons for "a pinch" too but it was part of a set. I couldn't resist buying it even tho I've got 3 other sets of measuring spoons.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                              my MIL gave me a set of measuring spoons as a joke that are a pinch, a smidgen, and a couple of others. I've never used them, but they make me giggle.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                I think that's the same set that I have. Haven't used mine either...

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                            I have family recipes dating from the 1890s. Mom put them on 3X5 cards when I flew the coop.

                                                                                                                                                                            A nut of butter. Butternut? Walnut? Coconut?

                                                                                                                                                                            A knob of butter. Doorknob?

                                                                                                                                                                            A fist of butter. Man? Woman? Child?

                                                                                                                                                                            A scoop of bacon grease.

                                                                                                                                                                            3 scoops of lard for frying.

                                                                                                                                                                            My grandmother, born in the 1890s explained that a scoop was a definite measure. I still have one from the farm in Minnesota. And have seen many the same size in antique shops throughout the Midwest It equaled a pound and a half.

                                                                                                                                                                            "Read instructions first."

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                                              Or a bag of icing sugar. What size bag? 250 grams? 1 pound? 50 pounds? Cuz, I'm telling you, I have no idea what size of bags you have where you are, and I'm halfway around the world...

                                                                                                                                                                              One I encountered in Sri Lanka - a bottle. It took a twitter conversation with just the right people to tell me that they meant a specific type of bottle (arrack) and it was 700 ml.

                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                            In Belgian (Dutch-language) recipes a pinch is sometimes describe as a 'knifepoint' e.g. 'knifepoint cinnamon, salt' etc. I think this is cute

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: limoen

                                                                                                                                                                              Italians do that too, but I've never seen it written. If someone is telling you a recipe, they may well say "il punto di un coltello" of something, to indicate a very small amount. I figure the point of a knife is a scant half teaspoon.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. "Stand facing the stove." (Instruction in old cookbook.)

                                                                                                                                                                        "Cook until done. When half done, salt." (Instruction for cooking green beans, old version of Fanny Farmer Cookbook.)

                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                          You ought to see some of the quotes from old cookbooks (as in 18th and 19th century cookbooks) mentioned in Baking in America. They bear absolutely no resemblance to today's recipes, and even the differences in cooking methods aside, its quite obvious to me why 17th century cookbooks haven't been passed down the family. It would drive me INSANE trying to figure out those recipes. Truly.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                            Cooks from the era of old cook books must have been into trick shot stirring.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                              I thought that "Face the Stove" was Julia Child's basic advice to beginning cooks.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                                                                                From the original edition of the Joy of Cooking. In fact, there's a biography of Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker called Stand Facing the Stove: http://www.amazon.com/Stand-Facing-St...

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                Ha. I remember a recipe for taffy in an old Fanny Farmer book that said pull until you can't pull anymore, then pull some more.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. I would say that providing cooking times for seafood and meat is pretty useless.

                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                  not really -- you need to have at least a guideline. Most people don't realize that shrimp doesn't need to have the beejeebers boiled out of it for 15 minutes....any more than they realize that chuck roast isn't going to be edible for a couple of hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                    Totally agree. Find it annoying when a recipe says to cook
                                                                                                                                                                                    to an internal temp of X but gives no idea of how long that will
                                                                                                                                                                                    take or when to start checking. At least give an approximation - X minutes per pound or x hours for a five
                                                                                                                                                                                    pound roast.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. How about telling me to peel a hard-cooked egg before using or eating?

                                                                                                                                                                                  31 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Siouxchef

                                                                                                                                                                                    To be fair, that's probably included for legal reasons. You just can't underestimate what someone would do. Or if they choke on a piece of eggshell they failed to clean off the egg whether they're going to sue (a la the woman who sued McDonalds because her coffee burned her).

                                                                                                                                                                                    If you go on the Warner Brothers product website, there was (don't know if its still there) a replica of the invisibility cloak from the Harry Potter movies for sale. There were actual customer complaints, publicly placed on the site, complaining that the cloak didn't work. Because it didn't make you invisible. These weren't jokes, but seemed to be actual complaints.

                                                                                                                                                                                    There's a certain small fraction of a fraction of a percentage who are going to have to be told to peel the egg first.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                      Instructions are catered towards the dimmest of its readers, despite how hard it might be to believe someone doesn't have the common sense to work the obvious out on their own.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Musie

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think that's rather harsh. Not everyone is into food.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                          It applies to anything that would come with instructions.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Musie

                                                                                                                                                                                            yep. If your company sells anything at all to the general public, you will find that every time you thing you have defined the depths of human stupidity, you'll get a phone call with a consumer at the other end sputtering about your crappy damned product that will lower the level of the depths of stupidity by a few more inches.

                                                                                                                                                                                            You can never write the instructions explicitly enough for some people...and that doesn't touch the people who don't read the instructions until *after* all hell breaks loose.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                              Heh, this isn't quite food related, but a friend of mine has a business selling shoes that he gets wholesale on Ebay. He and his employees take a lot of time to provide very good descriptions and multiple photos of the products on the listing. You wouldn't believe the most inane questions he gets. He actually started posting "question of the day" on his personal Facebook page because they are so ridiculous. It really is sad.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Musie

                                                                                                                                                                                          This is so true. David Lebovitz tells a hilarious story about a woman who was very upset when she couldn't find dry vermouth in the baking aisle of her market.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Excellent essay about writing cookbooks and the precision of ingredient amounts:
                                                                                                                                                                                          How Precise Do Recipes Need to Be?
                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/11/...

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Musie

                                                                                                                                                                                            I was just reminded of how dim some people can by when reading the comment section for a salsa chicken casserole the other night. Now, this is one of the easiest recipes on the planet... you take a cup of (white) rice, a jar of salsa, a cup of chicken broth, a cup of frozen corn, a can of black beans, and a couple seasonings, dump them all in the casserole dish, mix it up, then nestle in chicken. Cover the pan with foil, cook for an hour, uncover, top with cheese, and put back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Simple, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, the comment section of the blog this was posted on made me realize that some people are COMPLETELY clueless in the kitchen. Really stupid questions like "can I used refried beans instead of black beans?". But the biggest one that struck me was that a few people said they used brown rice and then complained that it wasn't cooked in an hour. I couldn't resist posting that I thought it was common knowledge that brown rice takes at least twice as long as white.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                                              Never assume anything with cooking newbies. In a cooking
                                                                                                                                                                                              class once we had a young woman (meaning probably
                                                                                                                                                                                              mid-20s) who had absolutely no idea how to get the juice
                                                                                                                                                                                              out of a lemon!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                My father, an engineer, could not figure out how to use a citrus reamer. I watched him look at it, then look at the lemon. Then he jammed the reamer forcefully into the end of the lemon and went at it - without cutting the lemon in half first. Effective, I guess, but requires some muscle!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had a roommate in college who couldn't figure out how to make rice or mac n' cheese, even after reading the instructions. Always messed up and needed help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                    you should have seen me lurking around spice racks in various grocery stores trying to find lemon zest. being a typical guy I never thought of asking. this was in pre-google days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I made the Thanksgiving Dinner last year, and packaged everything up to send over to my sister's house, and my father and I went shopping together for the ingredients. I told him I need dried orange peel flakes. Being a typical man, he declared with absolute certainty "they don't sell that". I took one look at him, said "wanna bet?", one look at the spice rack, and plucked it out right in front of him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      For my recipes, I'm trying to be very careful to specify absolutely every detail. I don't just say "mustard", I say either "prepared mustard" or "dry mustard powder". I specify ground or whole spices. I'm going to take the advice given earlier re metric measurements and specify level or heaping teaspoons and tablespoons from now on. And if I think people might not be sure what I'm talking about, or where to get it, I link to the item so they see exactly what I'm referencing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm absolutely comfortable in the kitchen, but if you said "mustard", I'd rattle off a half-dozen options to make I knew what you meant, as on any given day I have yellow mustard, Dijon, whole-grain, and several flavored mustards, in addition to the dry...same with ground or whole spices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My father wanted me to make a recipe for him a few weeks back, published in a well known publication that really ought to know better. One of the ingredients was mustard. I read through the list, we got what we needed in addition, then we came back for me to make the dish. When I had read over the ingredient list, I had assumed prepared mustard. The second time I looked at it, I said OMG, its supposed to be dry mustard. Oh wait, maybe not. And I spent a good fifteen minutes dithering because the recipe was unclear, and gave not a clue to which was the appropriate product. If their recipe is THAT unclear, that an experienced cook can't figure it out, imagine how many inexperienced cooks were confused, or worse, used the wrong thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          And yes, as it turned out, I used the right thing, fortunately.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          And you're right, one should be even more specific, as in, prepared YELLOW mustard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Musie

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I used to cook a lot and bring the results to work to share with my coworkers. I was often asked for the recipes. I learned that I would have to tailor each recipe to the cooking skills of the requestor. These were all very bright people but their cooking and food knowledge varied wildly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Will everybody stop picking on the McDonald's coffee lady? She got third degree burns, something this klutz has never done spilling coffee made at home or purchased. All she ever wanted was for McDonalds to pay for her skin grafts and use the temperatures stated by the manufacturer instead of well above that because it makes the restaurants smell nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: CloggieGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                      IIRC the McD coffee burned because the woman put the coffee cup between her legs and then it spilled...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                                                        No. The coffee burned as badly as it did because it was black (the only way they would give it to you) and at an unsafe temperature. They had been told over and over that their coffee was being served too hot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Two questions please....

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. what was too hot, i.e. the temperature and who said it was?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. the fact that she place the coffee and spilled it between her legs had nothing to do with her burns i.e. she was irresponsible by her own actions?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Liebeck placed the coffee cup between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            She was definitely partly responsible for the injury (20% per the jury's verdict). Thanks fourunder for the wiki link.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now if I put a cup of coffee between my legs and then spilled it, I would definitely slap myself on the head first before doing anything else. I should know better than to do that. Kinda like when I spill something on my desk, I should know better than to put it somewhere it could (and does) get knocked over easily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                                                              the key factor was that this particular McD had been warned by the health department (?) several times, but had disregarded all the warnings...which is why they were found to be significantly liable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The final judgement was reduced to a fraction of the initial reward on appeal, by the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not only that, but they refused to to change the temp because they were in litigation with five other people. They did not want to admit they were wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kalivs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The plaintiff asked for nothing more than help with her medical bills. McDonald's behaved attrociously and the jury awarded what they did because of that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I used to also cite this as an example of what is wrong in American society/law. Then I read the actual case notes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  McDonalds got what they deserved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What they got was an enormous reduction in the final award and punitive damages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They ended up paying a fraction of the amount that made headlines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This gives a lot of details -- did you know she wasn't actually driving the car?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, she was there with a nephew/grandson.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What I meant when I said all she wanted was... was that she didn't lead with a lawsuit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They wouldn't agree to her initial request because it would be admitting guilt...most assuredly an example of the problems with the existing system.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm willing to bet that the attorneys representing McDonald's know all about "Confidential Settlements" that are used (as Wikipedia puts it) in:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "...controversial cases...may be written into a settlement that...keep its contents and all other information relevant to the case confidential, and/or that one of the parties (usually the one being sued) does not, by agreeing to the settlement, admit to any fault or wrongdoing in the underlying issue."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She didn't start by suing. They could have avoided the whole thing by just helping the woman pay her medical bills.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nobody can know what might have been but I bet they could have paid the few grand it would have cost and it would have gone away and nobody would have ever known.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I never gently brush of my mushrooms I rinse not soak but rinse

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: scunge

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Washing mushrooms is just fine. That silly old wives' tale needs to go away soonest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I once saw a pasta recipe (Elizabeth David?) with an instruction something like salt the water until it has the salinity of the Mediterranean near Cap-d'Ail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: CampStreet

                                                                                                                                                                                                            lol- i just coughed up my annies bunnies..

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CampStreet

                                                                                                                                                                                                              really? On what day? Under what weather conditions? In what season?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              What self-aggrandizing puffery. (I think we call it asshattery)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I can sometimes enjoy reading Elizabeth David's cookbooks, but her arrogance is amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                She also thought that vanilla shouldn't exist. Horrors! How can I trust her taste after that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: CampStreet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I believe one of her recipes begins, "Prepare the chicken in the usual way."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In Elizabeth David's defense, I suspect that her fanciful pasta recipe instruction was meant to give her readers in postwar England hope that might get a taste of the exotic Mediterranean even if they may never get there. She also had to admonish them not to soak pasta before cooking it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chefMolnar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree. I don't think she was arrogant but rather looking to lift British cooking from the War/Post-War era of rations and recipes such as: http://homefront.weebly.com/mock-duck...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: drongo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lol. I made a squirrel-shaped roast out of Spam once for the holidays, but never a mock-duck. That's grand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: CampStreet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I suppose the Sea of Cortez or Indian Ocean or North Atlantic wouldn't cut it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. "Start with a pint of good veal demi-glace."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I just ran into a marinade that calls for "liquid honey". And here I was all prepared to use crystallized. So I moved on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Soul Vole

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      but the presence of whipped honey would indicate that one extra word can't hurt...see my mention of consumer stupidity above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Soul Vole

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just brought home honeycomb from Turkey so I see the diff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. "First catch your hare..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        from an old recipe for rabbit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam D.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Reminds me of the instruction manual for my antique sewing machine. "Before plugging in the cord, go outside and turn on the electric current."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam D.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reminds me of the recipe for chicken my father liked to quote:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "First steal two chickens."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sam D.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love Diana Kennedy and consider her a goddess when it comes to the cuisines of Mexico, but she does tend to start out with "have a goat slaughtered..." . Doesn't really bother me since nobody, at least no gringo, has researched Mexican cuisine more than she has (well, maybe Rick Bayless), but several things require more than a day's worth of prep. I still wouldn't change a word she's written, because as I said, she's a goddess. But I can see how people would be put off by a lot of her ever-so-carefully researched recipes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We've pretty much used up "The Cuisines of Mexico", which was I think her first cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                well Gwenth Paltrow starts with "dial up your fish monger"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Somehow Diana Kennedy seems more genuine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chez Tardigrade we joke that Kennedy's recipes should start "Have you maid go to the market/chop endless amounts of vegetation/disembowel a chicken". Her cookbook made me love Mexican food, though, and if you want it you'll have to pry it out of my cold, dead, chile-stained hands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In The Art of Mexican Cooking Diana Kennedy starts the "Poultry" chapter with "How to gut and clean a chicken". And the instructions are pretty much necessary if you want to make the Rellena de Pollo recipe, in which the intestines are cooked with coagulated blood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But the other fifteen or so other recipes in the chapter are far more approachable, as are the vast majority of her recipes. They're not "30 Minute Meals" by any means, but they don't tend to start out with slaughtering animals. (I get that you're exaggerating for effect.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh and while I have tremendous respect for Rick Bayless and what he's accomplished, he's no Diana Kennedy. She's been studying and documenting Mexican cuisine pretty much full-time since he was a child.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm seeing lots of 'cook until done' but for my money the worst of all is 'cook until thickened'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What? Cook for how long? Cornflour takes five minutes to thicken, but a reduction can take forever! And 'cook' how, should you simmer it or boil it or pour it into the toaster...? And thickened like a syrup or thickened like day-old porridge? This instruction always annoys me especially because thickening things can be such a precise and easy-to-ruin step; things like creme patissiere, bechamel sauce, asian sauces, balsamic syrup...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Elster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think you are always supposed to pour it into the toaster. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I have never knowingly used any of Rachel Ray's recipes but I recall seeing some that said (after giving the measure for an ingredient) "eyeball it." WTF?? With one eye or both? I'm not a recipe snob, but still....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As someone that doesn't measure when cooking I would be more comfortable with the term eyeball it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Enjoy! But unfortunately, I'm guilty of that one myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Season to Taste

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        but does anyone ever tell you that this means add salt? No, they just assume that EVERYONE KNOWS that those words mean throw a little salt in there if you think it needs it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        season to taste does not mean add garlic powder, cayenne, fines herbes, beef bouillon, or even seasoned salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        my friend's auntie thinks msg is the greatest thing ever created, and when she reads 'season to taste' she immediately dumps large amounts of msg into whatever it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Would it be so hard to write "sprinkle with salt if needed"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I SO AGREE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am tired of the PR whitewashing being given to salt by changing the word to "seasoning". Like we can avoid "excess" sodium in our diets if we just rename salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually I think it predates that. I think it goes way back to times when salt and maybe pepper were about the only 'seasoning' people had at hand. I've seen it in my Grandmother's early edition Joy of Cooking, in a 1950's Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and other similar books.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's only been relatively recent that the average american cook kept such a wide variety of spices, herbs, powders, etc. on hand. Grandma had salt and pepper, baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) She might have had some dry mustard, and maybe some fines herbes and possibly bay leaf, but that was about it. My other grandmother was more adventurous, she had paprika too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            thats almost as helpful as saying bake till a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean without saying what else to check for first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've had toothpicks come out slick as a whistle while meanwhile the thing i'm testing was either overdone or underdone. Righto, Kaimukiman, I need more parameters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I finally started checking several places...seems to be less of an issue with my new convection oven, but there are always hot spots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What am I missing here? And I'm not being sarcastic. You watch the garlic clove, or whatever, in the pan and when it reaches a color that is deeper than its natural cream color and not yet brown, which I would, and do, call golden, at that point you take it off the heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. The place: Reseda California

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The time: Summer of 1971

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The idiot: Me

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The assumption maker: My girlfriend

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The instructions: Just put the roast in the oven at 5PM at 325 degrees

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The problem: the idiot (me) put said roast in said oven at instructed temperature. Just not in any vessel of any sort but on top of open oven rack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Epilog: All cooking instruction were then given in minute detail until idiot finally proved himself capable of rubbing at least 2 brain cells together and getting a clue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So, instructions about "removing packaging" or many of the other ones cited here are actually not so useless after all... ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Servorg, I hope you will forgive me, but I want to thank you for giving me the best laugh I've had in days. I'm not laughing at the mess and problems your mistake caused, I swear it, but at the wonderful way you wrote your tale to entertain everyone. Promise. ;D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No worries...I still chuckle about it to this day. I wrote in "screenplay" mode thinking about how the young Steve Martin would have been the perfect casting for my part (but I guess if you think about it he already played my role in at least a few movies of his own).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But, of course, that movie was "The Jerk" rather than "The Idiot!" :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How about "The Jerk" mashed up with "Dumb & Dumber?" (g)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My engineer SO said that what you did was completely acceptable given the instructions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Your girlfriend simply wrote a poor test-plan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (And thanks for the chuckle!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    makes me think of a college-freshman programming class, before I figured out that writing code really wasn't what I wanted to do with myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the early assignments was to write instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The prof went out and bought several loaves of bread and a few jars of peanut butter and of jelly, and proceeded to **exactly** follow the instructions written on our assignments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It was a very graphic lesson of why you need to write clear, concise lessons with as much detail as necessary to get the job done correctly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We had a loaf of bread in the bag with a jar of pb and a jar of jelly sitting on top of it....a bag of bread with pb spread liberally on the outside of the wrapper, with the *jar* of jelly slapped onto the peanut butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It made us think!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I love it! What a great exercise for prospective computer programmers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm a computer programmer. And I'm probably at the other end of the spectrum. I think I tend to be overly detailed, tedious you might say, in giving instructions to other people because I'm so used to giving oh-so-precise-and-unambiguous instructions to computers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Any cookbook I might ever write would need a good and patient editor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Soul Vole

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        100011110001. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        that's the difficult part, we KNOW computers will only react to exactly what is spelled out, yet we expect people usually won't act like idiots despite our constant disappointments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cognitive behavioral recognition. some of has it, and some of us don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Soul Vole

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm trying to be a little more like that, to assume the person making the dish has no cooking experience and has never done it before. I wrote up some instructions on zesting a lemon last night, and I remembered an hour later I hadn't told them to wash the lemon first. Gotta include all that detail, even if it irritates more experienced cooks - they can just gloss over it...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I never wash things before zesting! Never even thought about it. Still alive so probably won't change :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We never did at home because we used oranges and lemons from the backyard. Actually now that I think of it we sometimes did, if they seemed dusty. Now I sometimes rinse, sometimes don't. Though honestly, I don't know how toxin-free our backyard fruit was, actually. Even though we didn't spray pesticides, it's not like the rain that fell on them was totally pure. LA back in the golden age of smog, not exactly Eden.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm in the same position. The lemons we use are from our backyard, so I know pesticides aren't sprayed on them, they're organic, or at least mostly so, and I'm reasonably certain the neighbors aren't spraying stuff either. But most people aren't growing their own lemons, and there could be something, including wax, on the outside of the lemon that should be removed. Not saying its toxic or anything like that, nobody will die, but who wants wax from a lemon in their jam? (Much less anything else that might be on there)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If I ever make jam, I am certainly going to remember this and wash my lemons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                if I know I'm going to use the zest, I buy organic lemons...because I've found that there's a distinct chemical off-taste with treated lemons -- **especially** with homemade limoncello

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                but I still rinse them...too much stuff they've been in contact with between the tree and me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's true, too, you never know who's been handling the lemons before you, and what was on their hands. (Another benefit of growing your own.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    even when I had a lemon tree, there's bugs (and their excrement), dust, pollens, the occasional bird peck (and their poo, too)....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    it's definitely *less* dirty, but it's still dirty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Right, Sunshine, I'm not a germophobe, but it helps to remember that your citrus spent nearly a year outdoors on the tree. Picture a person in that situation, I'm just sayin'. Rinse them off, and dry them off. The organic or other citrus you get from the store has been washed, but may have been through many warehouses and dirty hands before it gets to the produce department.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had next door neighbors in college (freshmen rich kids) who did things like put TV dinners in the oven in all their packaging. (They also complained about having sore knees after vacuuming. I pointed out the correct use of the extension wand.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Hold on smartypants, y'all!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I know a very good Lebanese cook. He was running a banquet one Saturday. He had to go out to pick up some odds and ends. So he prepared the lambs all ready for the oven and left instructions. Put the lambs in the oven at (say) 300 degrees at one o'clock.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Simple enough, right?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He comes back and every thing has been done as he instructed.Yes the oven was set at 300 degrees!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One thing though. He didn't tell his helper to turn on the oven.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Guess what?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            33 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "at 300 degrees" could possibly mean something other than to turn the oven on at 300 degrees?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Have you ever had employees?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Exactly what he said to his helper I don't know. He spoke to his helper in Arabic and to me in English. But I am sure, that he was sure, just as you are sure, that he gave complete instructions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So this was the first time that this very good Lebanese cook had ever given instructions to a worker? Ignorant, she failed to be sufficiently specific?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Or this very good Lebanese cook forgot that nobody in that part of the world is capable of thinking for himself? (Which is what you seem to be arguing.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe the guy just forgot to turn on the oven. Occam's razor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Right!! What else could it be? Angle? <scratch head>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, come on folks...am I the only one who has ever set the temp and then forgot to hit the "start" button? I do notice before I put the food in, though!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jeri L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This wasn't an oversight. It is a way of working that comes from a culture. Essentially the employer has to stand over the employee because every decision that has to be made invariably will be made incorrectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've never seen an oven that lets the user set a temperature without heating up. That being said, it's ridiculous. Clearly, no one wants raw meat to sit in the oven and not cook. I'm skeptical about the cultural angle. I doubt he told his employees to come to work wearing clothes but they probably did. I hope...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Look.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. All you guys are denying the reality. (Unlikely to be a story. I knew the Lebanese cook very well and spoke with him the next Monday.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. You have never had construction done Israel. I have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I get it. The culture in Sri Lanka is pretty similar, I believe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unless you're the owner/manager, you don't make decisions lest you lost your job. They're just not allowed to (the vast majority of the time). You do what you're told, exactly what you're told, even if you think it's wrong or the customer's getting angry or...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The culture in Israel is as diverse as its many populations ("sectors"). Stupid construction work doesn't come from deference to authority for the most part. Nor from the fear of making a decision. It comes from instinctively making the wrong decision at every opportunity.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For example. You wanted a window? You have a window. Just because it's not the size, shape nor in the position that is shown in the plans, so what? It's still a window, isn't it? What's your problem?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One would think that the work is sabotage, but this is not in the worker's interest and there is no other reason to believe this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Israeli French cooking works differently. It rivals- but doesn't match- cooking in France. The Israeli chef thinks like this. I know the rules and techniques. My ingredients and my customers are different. And I am in Israel. So I will give myself freedom, but strive for the the French aesthetic and standard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I've never seen an oven that lets the user set a temperature without heating up."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ________
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My last one did. Digital interface. If you set the temperature but forgot to hit the set/start button one more time, no dice. Realized a few times mid-prep that my oven wasn't preheating like I thought it was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I believe Viking home gas ovens have an on off switch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh I'm not saying that part's not accurate. I personally haven't seen one but I don't doubt they exist. I do, however, doubt that anyone with a normal intelligence level thinks you should put a dish in the oven, set the oven, and...not turn on the oven. Still trying to make the connection to Israeli construction work. Oh well. Can't win em all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mine has 2 dials -- one for temp, the 2nd for bake or broil which essentially is the "on" button.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mine does too! I've had a couple like that.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The first time I got one I thought it was faulty, until I read the manual!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My GE oven requires you to set the temp, then hit the start
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      button - I forgot to hit start a couple times when I first
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      got, realized it wasn't heating when I went to put the food in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      so no disasters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My gas oven had one knob for temperature and one for baker, broil, etc. If both are not turned, oven doesn't light. Therefore, possible to set temp without turning it on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It was a pretty old oven, though. Not sure if newer gas models are set up that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wow I remember that. They used to all be that way I think. Man I'm getting old.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some commercial ovens have multiple steps to turning them on. Our Wolf convection oven at work has an on/off knob, a temperature knob, and a fan switch. I have seen many a cook turn up the temperature but not switch it on, or turn it on but leave the temp off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My oven has 2 separate dials for heating/cooking. One dial has the temperature setting. The other has the method of heating: broil, bake, and clean and most importantly, OFF meaning, I have to turn it ON. So I can (and have) set the temperature dial but forget to turn it on and set to broil or bake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        First time I was cooking at my aunt's she did not tell me that you had to hit "bake" set the temp and hit "bake" again ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So I am in there preparing four courses and reach in to pull out these custards in egg shells for apps... and nothing!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Being 10 I sat down cried and blamed her for having the stupidest oven on the planet and whoever heard of something so stupid! Anway my mom told me to knock it off and serve the salad while the oven heated and everything got back on course. Now three years later I am in a house and our Jenn-Air works the same illogical way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i have an oven that you have to hit either bake or broil a second time after the oven heats up. it's the dumbest system i've ever seeen. why would you preheat an oven then have it turn itself off if you don't do anything?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have a similar oven, have to hit the button twice for it to preheat rather than after it's heated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What happens if you hit it only once?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: almond tree

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You hit it, set the temperature and then hit again for it to preheat. Otherwise, it does nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Being 10 I sat down....now three years later I am in a house"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You're THIRTEEN? Jesus. I was just learning how to make brown rice and steamed vegetables at your age. Impressive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was hoping that was a typographical error. Makes me very nervous if a minor is disclosing their age on the internet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hopefully, it was a typo, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I thought so as well, but given later posts on other threads I am fairly sure that was a typo. (#1 is next to #2)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ehh I don't care, I'm neither a weirdo nor a mod. ergo none of my concern.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            that's how my last oven was -- and it was old enough to vote when we replaced it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The new one requires that you select what you want it to do, then hit "start". I'm still in training on that one -- I'm getting there, but yeah, I've come back to put something in the oven and the stupid thing is still cold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It is nice that it has a "quick preheat" cycle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mine is old enough to vote and have children, 25+ years. I'm debating replacing it now as my built in microwave is dying (giving off a smell of burnt rubber) so I figure I should replace both at the same time. The only question is what to get/how much to spend since I figure I'll move in about 5 years or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I hate it when they say something like "1/2 cup of olive oil...*good* olive oil...". Have you ever heard them say the opposite? Martha Stewart and Ina Garten are notorious for doing this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, yes, it is real problem for me when I go to Pusateri's (in Toronto, calfshit Zabars). Last time I looked they stocked over 250 kinds. No idea how to choose except by price, and boy were the good one expensive!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I felt inadequate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I asked if they had the kind that enabled the flames to burn for 8 days and they said that it was on back order.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Haha, this discussion reminds me of Brian Regans's pop tart joke. If you want to watch it's here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8kTho...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: valleychip

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            lol- considering my sister doesnt doesnt "cook" hers at all...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Useless cooking instruction... This seems like a no-brainer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Salt and pepper to taste" or "season to taste"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            However, I've read recipe reviews on various sites like Allrecipes and a common complaint is "bland", "flavorless" or "needs more salt".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I suspect new/novice cooks expect recipes to be formulaic and account for their preferences automatically.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess a recipe author uses the "season to taste" instruction to let the user know that you allowed to S/P to their liking... so quit your whining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              From someone who uses recipes as a guide, season to taste makes perfect sense

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                but for a new cook, it's utterly unhelpful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm actually on the fence on this one -- I can see both sides of the issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is impossible to write otherwise than, season to taste.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The range of salt that people want in their food is enormous. The Ms. cooks from scratch for 6 plus and uses 2 pounds in say 18 months. Two pounds will last a Russian immigrant family - it seems a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At this stage in the North American cooking culture salt is way over used. Sometimes I think that a new cook shouldn't use salt at all, with the exception of, on popcorn. Then with experience the cook can decide if he/ she wants the tastes bright, round or flat- and the ingredients will have a chance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I understand that salt is addictive, in the true sense - the more you use it the more you crave it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "season to taste" doesn't necessarily mean "dump salt on it"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are always variables to cooking with or without recipes....so including a specific amount seasoning does not work...and season to taste is a far better suggestion and option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Even the best of cooks forget to season at all at times....a simple error, but one with severe consequences from people judging the results and outcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Being told, or reminded, on how or when to season is not useless information.